Microcaecilia marvaleewakeae
family: Siphonopidae
Species Description: Maciel AO, Hoogmoed MS 2013 A new species of Microcaecilia (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Siphonopidae) from the Guianan region of Brazil. Zootaxa 3693: 387-394.

© 2013 Ricardo Alexandre Kawashita-Ribeiro (1 of 2)

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.

Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None


Microcaecilia marvaleewakeae is a subcircular caecilian with length ranging from 170 to 194 millimeters in females and ranging from 135 to 213 millimeters in males. An additional individual of undetermined sex stands out at 247 millimeters in length. The width of the head is slightly less than the width of the body. When viewed from the side, the superior part of the head is slightly convex and the edge of the jaw forms a straight line, with no concavity at the level of the tentacular openings. The snout juts out rostrally 1.0 millimeter ahead of the mouth. The snout tip is rounded, with subcircular nostrils located dorsally and no narial plugs present. The eyes are not visible. The tentacle openings are circular, protruding laterally and closer to the edge of the mouth than to the nostrils, visible dorsally. The choanae are circular, and the tongue is attached anteriorly to mandibular mucosa. There are 20 premaxillary-maxillary teeth, which are consistent in size. The posterior maxillary teeth are smaller, with the whole series of teeth extending behind the choanae. There are 22 vomeropalatine, bicuspid teeth with no variation in size that are smaller than other dental series. There are also 15 dentary teeth, which are slightly larger than premaxillary-maxillary teeth and decrease in size posteriorly. The nuchal grooves completely encircle the body. The first collar is shorter than the second, at 1.1 and 1.6 millimeters, respectively. There is a single dorsal groove on every collar dorsally, with each groove being consistent in size. The body shape is an imperfect cylinder slightly wider laterally than ventrodorsally. The lateral width varies, and is more reduced at the anterior and posterior ends. The body is completely encircled by 129 primary grooves, save two interrupted by the vent. A small terminal cap is located behind the vent. There are 27 secondary grooves, of which seven are complete and one located posterior to the vent. There is a vertical “keel” at the end of the body. The vent has 13 denticulations: seven anterior and six posterior. Dermal scales begin at the 45th annular groove, appearing in up to four rows per groove. At the 45th groove, scales small are narrow at 0.1 by 0.2 millimeters, but enlarge posteriorly at up to 0.3 by 0.5 millimeters by the 100th groove (Maciel and Hoogmoed 2013).

At over 123, Microcaecilia marvaleewakeae has more primary annuli than M. albiceps, M. grandis, M. rabei, M. savagei, M. trombetas, M. unicolor, M. iyob, and M. dermatophaga. Microcaecilia marvaleewakeae has more primary grooves and maximum complete secondary grooves than M. dermatophaga at 9 and 3, respectively. Conversely, M. marvaleewakeae has fewer primary scales and secondary groves than M. supernumeraria at a maximum of 143 and 93, respectively. Microcaecilia marvaleewakeae’s fewer than 42 secondary grooves distinguish it from M. grandis and M. rochai, and its bicuspid rather than monocuspid vomeropalatine teeth set it apart from M. albiceps, M. savage, M. supernumeraria, M. trombetas, and M. unicolor. Microcaecilia marvaleewakeae differs slightly from M. taylori due to a greater maximum of 138 rather than 130 primary grooves. Additionally, M. marvaleewakeae has a higher maximum number of secondary grooves and complete secondary grooves at over 20 and 6, respectively (Maciel and Hoogmoed 2013).

In life, the body is reddish-pink or dark lavender. The skin has a translucent-like sheen. The face becomes increasingly light- and yellow-colored approaching the anterior end. Areas around the vent, as well as lateral annular grooves, are lighter-colored as well. Preserved specimens are a pale yellow with a significant gray or brown tone. Lateral and ventral portions of preserved bodies are slightly lighter than the rest, with annular grooves slightly darker (Maciel and Hoogmoed 2013).

Current specimens are very anatomically consistent. Some specimens lack a dorsal transverse groove on the first collar. Furthermore, one of the most geographically-isolated specimens has five more primary annuli than others in the species, but fewer secondary grooves (Maciel and Hoogmoed 2013).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Brazil

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.

Known specimens have been collected within the municipalities of Urucará and Oriximiná, in the states of Amazonas and Pará, Brazil, respectively. Specimens were all collected in forested areas at elevations of 50 to 160 meters (Maciel and Hoogmoed 2013).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Small, immature ova with abundant fat bodies are present on the holotype organism (Maciel and Hoogmoed 2013). However, there is currently no information on the reproductive behavior of M. marvelwakeae.

Trends and Threats
Not enough information currently available.

The species authority is: Maciel, A. O., and Hoogmoed, M. S. 2013. A new species of Microcaecilia (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Siphonopidae) from the Guianan region of Brazil. Zootaxa 3693: 387–394.

No genetic analysis has been done yet, but the species is suspected to be most closely related to M. taylori as they are morphologically very similar (Maciel and Hoogmoed 2013, Wilkinson et al. 2013).

This species is named in honor of Dr. Marvalee H. Wake, professor of the Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, and important researcher of caecilians (Maciel and Hoogmoed 2013).


Maciel, A. O., and Hoogmoed, M. S. 2013. A new species of Microcaecilia (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Siphonopidae) from the Guianan region of Brazil. Zootaxa 3693: 387–394.

Wilkinson, M., Sherratt, E., Starace, F., Gower, D. J. (2013). ''A New Species of Skin-Feeding Caecilian and the First Report of Reproductive Mode in Microcaecilia (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Siphonopidae).'' PLoS ONE, 8(3), 1-11.

Written by Axel C. Hauduc (axelh AT, UC Berkeley
First submitted 2015-10-09
Edited by Ann T. Chang (2015-10-29)

Feedback or comments about this page.


Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2015. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: (Accessed: Dec 1, 2015).

AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.